NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University hosted the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s “Forever Stamp” featuring legendary performer and civil rights activist Lena Horne on Friday in the Kean Hall welcome center.
The new stamp, which is the 41st in the Black Heritage series, is a colorized black-and-white photograph taken of Horne in the 1980’s by photographer Christian Steiner. The dress Horne wears in the photograph appears royal blue, a color she frequently wore. The background of the photograph includes a few clouds, reminiscent of her Stormy Weather album. Horne’s name appears at the bottom of the stamp, with the words “USA” and “Forever” appearing just above her name in the bottom right corner. The words “Black Heritage” appear at the top of the stamp.
Toni Franklin, the postmaster of Nashville, joined TSU Associate Vice President and Chief of Staff, Dr. Curtis Johnson, faculty, staff, students, postal officials and guests during the unveiling ceremony in Nashville in the Kean Hall foyer on the main campus. The stamp was dedicated by Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman during a January 30th ceremony at the Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York.
Franklin described Horne as “a woman who used her platform as an entertainer to become one of America’s most public advocates for civil rights and gender equality.”
“The Lena Horne Commemorative Stamp is being issued as a ‘Forever Stamp’,” Franklin said. “It goes without saying, Lena Horne will forever be in our hearts.”
Steven Lewis, Curator of the National Museum of African American
Music slated to open in Nashville in 2019, served as the ceremony speaker. He provided a brief history of Horne’s contributions to the entertainment industry and African American History.
“Lena Horne lived a long life, and she had an amazingly varied body of work spanning activities of literally all forms of popular media including film, television, recordings, musical theatre, and night club appearances,” he said. “The constant throughout her career, however, was her commitment to activism on behalf of African Americans.”
Attendees participated in a brief reception following the event. The TSU Jazz Band provided entertainment, performing renditions of Horne’s classics, including her popular song, Stormy Weather.
Best known for her movie roles in “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather,” Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club. She endured decades of discrimination in her storied career, and eventually emerged as a civil rights activist performing at various rallies across the South, pressing for anti-lynching legislation with Eleanor Roosevelt, lending her support to the National Council for Negro Women and taking part in the March on Washington in 1963.
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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.